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A RISTOTLE V IRTUE E THICS : Happiness and the Good Life.

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Presentation on theme: "A RISTOTLE V IRTUE E THICS : Happiness and the Good Life."— Presentation transcript:

1 A RISTOTLE V IRTUE E THICS : Happiness and the Good Life

2 A RISTOTLE ( ) Virtue: arete, excellence Eudaimonia : Happiness, human flourishing, the good life. Teleology: Purpose, final cause, everything has a final cause.

3 T HE N ATURE OF E THICAL T HOUGHT Aristotle claimed that each discipline (mathematics, physics, ethics, etc.) had its own method. Moreover, the precision with which we could establish conclusions in each discipline was different. For instance in mathematics we used deduction and this method allowed us to obtain very precise and definite, necessary conclusions. The method of ethics allowed for only probably conclusions, but this was not to be taken as a flaw, because that is simply is nature.

4 P RECISION : N ECESSARY VS. P ROBABLE Precision or accuracy in statements should reflect the precision or accuracy the subject before us admits. Now things that are noble and just (with which Politics deals) are so various and so uncertain, that some think these are merely conventional and not by natural directions. There is a similar uncertainty also about what is good, because good things often do people harm … Our subject, then, and our data being of this nature, we must be content if we can indicate the truth roughly and in outline … probable conclusions. Aristotle

5 T HE PURPOSE OF THINGS Aristotle believed that the essence or nature of all natural things entailed a purpose or end. Similar to the way that artificial things have a purpose, natural things have a natural purpose.

6 W HAT IS THE PURPOSE OF HUMAN BEINGS ? To determine the purpose of human beings we need to determine Human beings ultimate end. If there is some end for which all other ends is a means, and it is NOT a means for anything further, then it must be am end in itself. That is this end must be one we choose for NO other reason. It is always an END and NEVER a MEANS.

7 W E SHOULD KNOW THIS END. It seems prudent if there is such an end that we would come to know it so that we could act in the most effective and efficient way toward achieving it. Like an archer, she would want to know in which direction the definite mark is.

8 U LTIMATE E ND OF H UMAN B EINGS HAPPINESS: to live well and do well

9 T HE F UNCTION OF THINGS ? The function of things is the natural behavior that the thing manifests through its nature and essence. The function of a thing is what the thing does best or what it was meant to do. The function of a steak knife is to cut steaks. The function of a butter knife is to spread butter on bread.

10 T HE F UNCTION OF H UMANS ? Does man have a function or purpose? The eye has a purpose. So we must suppose that man also has a some function over and above all these. The hand and foot have a function and purpose. What do humans do well? What do they do best? The function of a thing is determined by its nature (its essence).

11 M AN S N ATURE Life he has in common with all living creatures. Life of nutrition and growth he also has in common with plants and animals. Life of the senses she has in common with animals. What humans have that he does not share with animals is the life of thought (concepts, communication, reasoning, language, etc.) …the life of rational nature.

12 W HAT IS H APPINESS ? Is happiness found in the life of enjoyment or pleasure, or is happiness found in a life of reason? Aristotle argues that happiness is found in the life of reason. He refers to this as the contemplative life.

13 W HY IS HAPPINESS AND VIRTUE CONNECT TO REASON ? Aristotle claimed that virtue was excellence. Excellence was living and doing things in accordance with ones nature. Because the nature and function of human beings is to reason, the faculty of reason is what is most special about humans. Then acting rationally or acting in accordance with reason is acting virtuously.

14 V IRTUE – E XCELLENCE The good of man is the exercise of his faculties in accordance with excellence or virtue. This he must due consistently and over time and not just in a few isolated instances

15 H APPINESS - E UDAIMONIA A kind of excellence Excellence in disposition and acts that are excellent. She who loves excellence and virtue will receive pleasure from acting virtuously or excellently. Their life, then does not need pleasure to be added to it as an appendage, but contains pleasure in itself.

16 T O BE GOOD IS TO DESIRE GOOD AND TAKE PLEASURE IN DOING GOOD. To be good it is necessary to take pleasure in noble deeds. To be just you must desire to do just things and take pleasure in doing just things. To be called generous you must desire to be generous and take pleasure in acting generously.

17 H APPINESS AND G OODNESS Happiness and Goodness are inseparable!

18 H APPINESS AND E XTERNAL G OODS Happiness also requires external goods. A certain amount of good fortune can also help ones happiness. Health, wealth, friends, good birth, good children, etc. for a man is not very likely happy if he is very ugly in person.

19 V IRTUE Intellectual Virtue: Prudence (to reason well). Moral Virtue: Temperance, Justice, and Fortitude.

20 M ORAL V IRTUE Moral virtue is taught One learns to be just by doing just things. We acquire moral virtues by habit. Moral virtue is a State of Character States of character arise out of activities, i.e., what you say and do. A virtuous (or excellent state of character) will allow a person to act in an excellent fashion

21 W HAT IS IT TO ACT WELL ? One acts well when one avoids extremes, so that virtue is a kind of Mean. …fear and confidence and appetite and anger and pity and in general pleasure and pain may be felt both too much and too little, and both cases not well; but to feel them at the right times, with reference to the right objects, towards the right people, with the right motive, and in the right way is what is intermediate and best, and this is characteristic of virtue.


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